As a licensed chiropractic physician of 15 years, I know a lot about the health-care field. I ran my own office, hired staff, paid utility bills, dealt with insurance companies, referred patients for MRIs and CT scans, and co-managed cases that required more than just the services that I could offer with other medical professionals.
I also know a lot about schools. Chiropractic education generally consists of a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by four years of graduate school at an accredited chiropractic college, four National Board exams and a state jurisprudence exam.
I didn’t set out to be a chiropractor from a young age. In fact, my family consists of three generations of pharmacists. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what I wanted to study in undergraduate school and waited until the last conceivable moment to select my major of International Affairs. All I knew was that after high school I was supposed to go to college. I wasn’t told why, just that I was a good student and that I was meant to go to college.
And while I can carry on intelligent conversations about multinational corporations and geopolitical events around the world, I can honestly say that the four years I invested in my undergraduate degree could have probably been better spent trying to find my passion.
My high school and undergraduate counselors tried to guide me as much as possible towards something that interested me, but ultimately failed. I felt lost and disengaged in my studies and my work. I was becoming a young adult with responsibilities and bills, and a beautiful young woman whom I was trying to woo. I learned quickly that adult life was expensive, yet I was terribly dissatisfied with my work. I tried farming, commercial fishing, worked as an assistant manager at a Rent-A-Furniture chain, and eventually took a job as a long-haul truck dispatcher. With each new venture came more experience and a little more money, but I was empty inside. The work was grueling and thankless, and more importantly did not stir my passion or creativity.
It wasn’t until I paid my brother a visit to Life University in Marietta, Georgia, that I found my true calling. Or rather, my brother told me what my passion was. You see, as far as I knew this was a social visit to see my little brother who had moved across the country to enroll in chiropractic school. But he had other plans for me.
Without even speaking about it he began introducing me to all of his friends as “This is my brother, Mike. He’s going to be starting in the fall.” And although I initially laughed it off, by the end of my weekend visiting the school, I could feel in my heart that Dr. Sid William’s motto of “To Give, To Love, To Serve” was indeed my calling in life. My brother saw something in me that no one else had, and a spark ignited in me that I could not ignore. I went home and broke the news to my wife that we had to sell the house, quit our jobs and move to Georgia so I could become a Chiropractor. Her reaction amazed me when she was silent for a moment and then replied, “You’re right. That is what you are meant to do.”
Fast forward almost 20 years and I find myself teaching at one of the most technologically advanced and philosophically sound CTE schools in the country. I strive daily to help high school seniors discover their passion, to light the flame that will carry them on the path to success and happiness. The East Valley Institute of Technology is an amazing place where miracles happen every day—the miracle of discovering one’s passion and being shown the pathway to pursue one’s dreams. What a tremendous sense of pride there is in teaching skills to young adults and watching their confidence, their self-worth, and their passions take off.
In my opinion, CTE education should be the rule, not the exception. Our school celebrates a 98% high school graduation rate. And 2/3 of our students go on to some form of college or higher learning institutions. And these students don’t just leave our campus with an employable skill; they leave as proud members of society with a passion for what they want to do in life.
Although my path was winding and twisted, I eventually found my calling. And now my calling is helping my students find theirs. CTE education plays a vital role in preparing our future leaders with skills and a vision for their futures that fuels their success. I am proud to be a part of this process at EVIT.
Michael Morris, D.C., teaches the Physical Therapy Technician program at the East Valley Institute of Technology’s Dr. A. Keith Crandell (Main) Campus in Mesa.